Gamemaster Review – Tabletop Journeys IRL

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Gamemaster Review – Gamemaster takes on the incredible journies of some of the biggest tabletop game designers in the industry

I love tabletop games. It’s the base that gave birth to video games. Every RPG owes its life to D&D. Sadly, because of the times, it’s been hard to keep up with one of my favorite hobbies. However, thanks to Gamemaster there’s at least one other way to indulge my passion for tabletop games.

Gamemaster takes us on the journies of several tabletop game creators from concept to success. It’s a captivating inside look behind the revival of the hobby and culture into what is now a growing three-billion dollar industry. Thanks to modern technologies, the barrier to get into the industry is not as impenetrable as it once was. With crowdfunding, people can just jump right in and make games that go directly to consumers. There are more conventions and shows, more types, more genres. There’s never been a better time for tabletop games (quarantining situation aside). Director Charles Mruz intertwines the tabletop renaissance with its subjects and gives us a multi-faceted approach that comes together in this exciting period and gracefully wraps up with each creator’s with some reflection and where they currently are.

I thoroughly enjoyed the uplifting tone of the film. This is not to say that Mruz didn’t cover the hurdles or hardships of the creators. Game creators go through hundreds, if not more, versions of their games before they have their viable product. There is harsh critique, little initial return, and also the difficulty of getting an audience due to the increased commitment tabletop gaming inherently requires. It is kind of the anthesis of the pick-up and drop nature of many things, especially video games, today. But despite all of that, the game creators follow through and create something. Something tangible that you can hold, something that combats cultural expectations, and something that’s apart of themselves that they can share and inspire others with.

Of the many creators, the ones that resonated most with me were Nashra Balagamwala, Jason Serrato, and Elan Lee. Balagamwala talks about the immense cultural pressures of being a Pakistani woman to get married. She personally had no plans to and outspokenly resisted the tradition. This caused a lot of friction with her family, and with her game that features the cultural tradition, numerous other people as well. But despite all of that, she is now living her dream, speaking out for independence, and inspiring many others to do the same. Serrato has a very inspiring tabletop tale. He grew up in a rough neighborhood that was likely to churn out “knuckleheads” as he liked to put it. However, he found tabletop games like D&D which connected him with a wide spectrum of people and eventually inspired him to create Thug Life. His journey with the game to create it for kids like him leads to a slew of changes, like making cut out pieces for plastic miniatures, is particularly interesting and it really shows how the creators are putting parts of themselves into their games. Then Lee, who is the perfect model example of game creators using crowdfunding to change the industry. It started with a deck of cards with some rules written on it, then hundreds of versions later and an initial goal of $10,000 on Kickstarter, to a massive tabletop gaming company. It’s not an easy journey and you get to see a glimpse of how much work and effort goes into it, but it also inspires you and gets you thinking, “I could do it.”

The one limitation of Gamemaster is the subject matter. I believe that an interest in the inner workings of tabletop gaming is essential to the enjoyment of the film. It is a very well made documentary and the stories of the creators are gripping, but because of the lack of a “rockstar” element and controversies, I believe a general audience, without an initial foot into the hobby, would not be interested.

Gamemaster is a deep and personal look into the tabletop gaming industry. It masterfully shares the stories of some of the industry’s most renowned creators and their lessons and messages for those who want to be a part of the industry. Or if you’re like me, it’s a great film to learn about some amazing tabletop game creators, what inspired their games, and what stories their games are trying to tell. It’s a documentary about passion and art that manifests as a physical game for people to enjoy and share with others. Gamemasters as Scott Rogers, “It’s a lot of fun.” My Gamemaster review gets a 4/5.

Gamemaster ReviewGamemaster is out now on VOD.

 

 

Gamemaster Review
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TLDR

Gamemaster is a deep and personal look into the tabletop gaming industry. It masterfully shares the stories of some of the industry’s most renowned creators and their lessons and messages for those who want to be a part of the industry. Or if you’re like me, it’s a great film to learn about some amazing tabletop game creators, what inspired their games, and what stories their games are trying to tell. It’s a documentary about passion and art that manifests as a physical game for people to enjoy and share with others. Gamemasters as Scott Rogers, “It’s a lot of fun.”

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